5 Easy Car Repairs You Can Do Instead of Making an Insurance Claim

Dented Car Door© razerbird from Getty Images Signature / Canva

Car ownership often comes with a plethora of unexpected costs. No matter how careful a driver you are, the reality is that accidents and unforeseen damages to your vehicle can occur. But not all car damage warrants a costly trip to the garage or an insurance claim. In fact, there are common car repairs that are surprisingly easy to do on your own, with the right guidance and a dash of confidence.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through five DIY car repairs that could save you significant time and money. Whether you’re a seasoned at-home mechanic or completely new to the world of vehicle maintenance, these repair tasks are designed to be approachable and rewarding. By taking the DIY route, you can gain a new skill, avoid insurance rate hikes, and keep your car in top condition.

Introduction to DIY Car Repairs

The allure of DIY car repairs is undeniable. Not only can they save you money, but they also provide a sense of accomplishment and independence. While it’s true that some repairs are best left to professionals, there are a handful of common fixes that virtually anybody can learn. This guide will demystify DIY car repairs, equipping you with the knowledge and courage to take the maintenance of your vehicle into your own hands.

1. Filling Windshield Chips

A small chip or crack on your windshield might seem like a big deal, but in many cases, it’s a repair you can handle yourself. These minor damages can worsen over time, which is why prompt action is key. Here’s how you can tackle it:

Step-by-step Guide

  • Start by ensuring the area is clean and dry. Use a soft cloth to remove any dust, dirt, or glass particles from the chip.
  • If the chip is small and shallow, apply a glass repair kit that fills and seals the area.
  • If the damage is deeper, consider using resin to fill the chip. Remember to perform the repair in shaded areas to prevent the resin from drying too quickly in the sunlight.
  • Once filled, use a sharp razor blade to scrape away excess resin. Clean the area once more with a cloth and a small amount of rubbing alcohol.
  • Finally, allow the repair to cure according to the resin’s instructions, typically under direct sunlight.

Necessary Tools and Safety Precautions

  • A windshield repair kit with resin and application tools
  • Safety gloves to protect your hands
  • Safety glasses to shield your eyes

By taking this repair into your own hands, you’re not just saving money; you’re also preventing the damage from spreading, potentially saving you from needing a full windshield replacement down the line.

2. Correcting Minor Dents

Minor dents from shopping carts or the careless opening of other car doors can be a frustrating sight. But thankfully, they often don’t require professional attention. Various methods exist to pop these dents out without damaging the paint.

Paintless Dent Repair

  • Invest in a DIY paintless dent repair kit, which includes everything from glue-guns to pulling tools.
  • Apply a small dab of glue to the pulling tool and attach it to the center of the dent.
  • Use the handle of the tool to pull the dent out, ensuring the pressure is steady but gentle.
  • Once the dent is relatively flat, twist the handle to release the glue and remove any residue with a mild solvent.

Plunger Method for Small Dents

  • Make sure the plunger is clean and apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to form a tight seal.
  • Press the plunger against the dent, ensuring a firm vacuum.
  • Carefully pull the plunger back to pop the dent outwards.

Both methods require patience and a steady hand. They also prevent the need for filling and repainting the dented area, which can be much more expensive and time-consuming.

3. Changing Air Filters

Your car’s air filter is a crucial component for ensuring a healthy engine. Over time, it can become clogged with debris, reducing performance and fuel efficiency. Luckily, this is one of the easiest maintenance tasks you can do at home.

Impact on Car Performance

  • An old or dirty air filter can reduce acceleration and horsepower as your engine struggles for oxygen.
  • It can also negatively impact your gas mileage by up to 10%.

DIY Tips for Replacing Air Filters

  • Locate your air filter housing, typically a large plastic box with clips on the side.
  • Open the clips and take out the old air filter.
  • Inspect the new filter to ensure it’s the correct fit and is the same general shape as the filter you removed.
  • Install the new filter with the “flow” arrow pointing in the direction of the air intake.

Changing your air filter is a quick fix that can have a noticeable impact on your car’s performance and save you money on fuel over time.

4. Replacing Spark Plugs

If your car is experiencing poor engine performance, misfires, or is simply sluggish to start, it could be due to worn-out spark plugs. Replacing them is a straightforward process that doesn’t require much expertise.

Instructions for Replacing Spark Plugs

  • Ensure the engine is cool and disconnect the negative battery terminal.
  • Remove the spark plug wire and unscrew the old plug with a spark plug socket and a ratchet.
  • Check the gap of the new spark plugs and adjust as necessary.
  • Apply anti-seize to the threads of the new plugs and install them by hand to avoid cross-threading.
  • Tighten the plugs with the socket and ratchet, then reconnect the spark plug wires.

Regularly changing your spark plugs can keep engine performance at its best, and doing it yourself saves a visit to the mechanic.

5. Changing Oil and Oil Filter

Arguably the most feared DIY car repair, changing your car’s oil and oil filter need not be a daunting task. Regular oil changes are vital for your engine’s health and longevity.

Importance of Regular Oil Changes

  • Fresh engine oil lubricates moving parts, preventing overheating and wear.
  • Old oil can become sludgy and abrasive, causing damage over time.

Instructions for Changing Oil and Filter

  • Jack the car up and place it securely on jack stands.
  • Locate the oil drain plug and position your catch basin underneath.
  • Unscrew the plug, allowing the old oil to drain out. Replace the drain plug and tighten it.
  • Locate the old oil filter and remove it using a filter wrench.
  • Lubricate the gasket of the new filter with clean oil and install it by hand, only tightening a bit more with the wrench.
  • Fill the engine with the appropriate oil, as per the owner’s manual.

Changing your oil is a great way to save money and maintain a harmonious relationship with the heartbeat of your vehicle — the engine. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing the job was well done.


You don’t have to be a mechanic to perform certain repairs on your car. By learning and practicing these five easy DIY car repairs, you’ll not only save on expenses but also become more intimately connected with your vehicle. And, of course, it’s always a great feeling to be self-sufficient and in control. Don’t be afraid to pick up the wrench — your car and your wallet will thank you. Happy repairing!

Remember, even as you venture into DIY car repairs, safety should always be your top priority. Familiarize yourself with your car and its components, and don’t hesitate to ask for professional help if you encounter any uncertainties. With that said, get your hands dirty and start gaining the confidence to take charge of your car’s maintenance needs.

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This article is intended for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only and should not be construed as advice, guidance or counsel. It is provided without warranty of any kind.